Princess Principal – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Five girls attend Queen’s Mayfaire, a conventional and prestigious school. Under the guise of regular high school girls, they act as spies under cover. (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Princess Principal is one of the few anime to stand out visually this season. It’s got solid background artwork with a steampunk setting and boasts actions scenes that flow well and impress. Even just in its first few minutes, the series manages a solid and enthralling first impression.
Linny: The art style and animation quality really help to sell and elevate the steampunk aesthetic employed here and give Princess Principal added value and charm (though I did find the ninja(?) steam punk girl’s costume a bit ridiculous). Since the premiere employs an episodic and self contained story, it seems likely to be the preferred formula for the rest of the show. This episode in particular dealt with the girls trying to protect and help extricate a defector and his sister, and detailed how these girls often have to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Tom: Overall this episodes acts as a nice introduction to, what amounts to, not-Germany post world war II and the alternate history Princess Principal is working within. Right away we get the kind of action, spy-oriented tale the series is offering. This isn’t Joker Game from last year, depicting the espionage world with some kind of honesty. This is anime spies with flashy swords, gunfire, and objects that defy the laws of physics. The dark tone is set up well and the only undermining aspect to the experience is the need to put a positive button on the end of, what is otherwise, a tragic outcome for the series’ first outing. The button tries to add a sense of heart, of compassion to our characters, but feels too easy to be real, even in this alternate history fantasy world. It’s not a big issue, but a small blemish on an otherwise solid first outing.
Linny: What I really enjoyed was how it didn’t rely or employ lengthy exposition and still made it easy for the viewer to follow. The only potential problem with that is it might frustrate anyone who prefers their characters more fleshed out as we barely even get to learn the names of the girls. There’s also the fact that if the episode isn’t holding your attention, you might miss a scene or line that could prove crucial to the plot and ultimately have you end up more lost than entertained. Even with my full attention, there was a scene in the episode that caused me some confusion as the girls seem to perform some action very haphazardly with no logical follow through. It takes place in a hospital, where one of the girls violently injects a patient with an anesthetic right next to their target, probably to ensure the patient doesn’t witness anything. But at the same time, they then completely ignore another patient right across the room who seems to be witnessing it all with horror on her face. It’s a minor and quick shot, one I am probably overthinking but nevertheless felt inclined to point out.
Tom: Ange is but one of the girls on the Principal Spy Team, yet arguably far and away the main character here. With just twenty some odd minutes to introduce us to not just the world but its cast, Princess Principal manages to craft Ange as an interesting, complex character, who bathes herself in lies and half-truths. It makes her feel interesting, and while the button, as I talked about above, feels a bit too convenient, it adds enough compassion to her character that Ange feels like the kind of lead I’d like to know more of. The rest of the girls go largely unexplored, and some feel more interesting than others, but if they can craft the same seeming complexity as they did with Ange, then I can see this team of spies coming out as stand out characters for the season.
Linny: Princess Principal is one of the few original works this season. There are also a lot of talented people working on it, lending it a fair amount of hype, which could unfortunately prove to be its downfall as while the show is by no means bad, exaggerated expectations usually lead to disappointment. Based solely on its premiere episode, Princess Principal has the animation and team behind it to make it at the very least a visual delight but there’s a chance its tightly packed story telling style, bereft of simplified exposition could prove to be too demanding for certain audiences.
Tom: Overall I’m extremely positive on Princess Principal. I still feel the summer is overall shaping up to be a weak season. But this series, along with a handful of others, act as exciting rays of hope, displaying plenty of potential and promise in their premieres. I think this first episode is well worth the look in, and I’m eager to see what dangers await these spy girls next.
Princess Principal is available for streaming via Amazon’s Anime Strike Channel